Here’s your first exercise for this week. At the end of each day this week, ask your partner/friend/colleague how their day has been (I’m excluding older children from this list as they’re likely to look at you like you’re mad, say ‘fine’ and go up to their rooms!). Now, however positive your friend’s day might have been I’m willing to bet they’ll start by telling you what went wrong. The description is likely to be vivid and to make matters worse, as they recall it, this ‘ok’ day will become worse causing a downward spiral that is way out of proportion to where their story started…
And that’s the potency of negative emotions. Through research, we now know that negative events are recalled more easily; expanded on successfully; remembered vividly and replayed actively. They take a firm grip on our body, mind and language, being the central plank of our delicious gossip and our judgemental self-talk, all with the knowledge that unchecked negativity can cause health damaging consequences.
Oh, pity the pale, weak, poor relations that are positive emotions! Little wonder they’ve been ignored by evolutionists and poets; psychologists and scientists alike. They can be fleeting and forgotten, with the language (joy, happiness, wonder) reduced to the front of greeting cards (or slightly odd, overly exuberant people you want to avoid). Yet the scientific discoveries of positive emotions are stunning. Consider this – what if positivity really matters? What if our day to day emotional experiences affect the very course of our lives?
In a nutshell, here are my 3 favourite facts about positive emotions:
- Positivity obeys a tipping point. The ratio of 3:1 positive to negative emotions is our gateway to flourishing. (At 1:1 or even 2:1, we are still ‘languishing’);
- Positivity changes how your mind works. Positive emotions broaden the scope and boundaries of your mind, enabling a wider span of possibilities;
- Positive emotions build your psychological resources enabling you to become more resilient, optimistic, open, accepting and driven by purpose.
So, our starting point for this week is to help you assesses where are you now? Just like tracking calories or cash flows can heighten your awareness and in time help you meet your fitness or financial goals, tracking your positivity ratio can help you raise your ratio and build your best future. Log on to http://www.positivityratio.com and take the Positivity Self Test. Go further if you like, and take part in the Day Reconstruction Method to really discover what’s going on in your day.
Scare your partner when they next ask, ‘how’s your day been?’ and give them an accurate answer!